NEWBY: Hope is not a viable business strategy | Local News


Pooja Agnihotri said, “Fighting change and clinging to the same old ways of doing things has never proven productive for anyone – you or your customers. We all have known businesses that have failed. They had big dreams, big work ethic and small budgets. They had no marketing planned and hoped that word of mouth would drive business growth. They hoped that excellent customer service would set them apart. They hoped the affordable, out-of-the-way shopping location would still attract customers. They had the passion and hope that hard work and a good attitude would overcome the expected obstacles normally encountered. In short, too many hopes, poor planning and a lack of community support.

After the dust settled, they learned in the school of hard knocks that hope really makes bad business strategy. It takes more than hope, hard work and persistence to be successful. While every community with a truly local mindset will try to support local businesses, it’s not just the community’s job to ensure the success of new businesses. Many businesses lack many skills and necessary funds before they even start. That said, it is in a community’s interest to provide a winning business climate and support networks that increase the chances of success for new or expanding business owners.

Growing, forward-thinking communities understand this very well. What are some best practices that communities can use to further create an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset throughout their community? First and foremost, create a hyper local mindset throughout the community. Forward-thinking communities have embraced this concept from the top down. They would never consider a government purchase outside of their community boundaries until they explored all hyper-local options. Every tax dollar kept local benefits for the city over and over.

Second, they create networks that support local business development. The more unique the local business community, the more it conveys the dynamism needed to foster future growth. While we all want big employers or manufacturers to come to town, the reality is that communities can achieve equal results one new local business at a time. Ten new five-employee businesses opening each year will equal one 250-employee business moving into town every five years. Additionally, local businesses need less tax breaks, fewer amenities, and are more active in the community.

Third, communities can work with businesses to meet some local demands that are currently not being met by local businesses. Helping to support local steakhouses, entertainment and various retailer services is a great start. Not all business ideas make sense for all communities. Knowing the types of businesses needed can be helpful when looking to expand your community. Often, community leaders woo national chains with their track record of success to meet their needs. This comes at the expense of your local contractors being able to meet those needs with a little nudge and assistance to meet those same demands. Local restaurants, entertainment and retail businesses with a unique flavor always appeal better than chains.

Finally, we have mentioned on more than one occasion that developing a tourist mentality is essential. Most communities can attract tourists through unique events or destination marketing. Communities should consider each new tourist as $1,000 entering your community to spend money now. Think of every hundred tourists as $100,000 entering your community. Communities often overlook this most fundamental and logical way to foster growth and development. Communities don’t have to be New York, Chicago, Branson or an MLB spring training site to attract tourism. Today, tourists are staying closer to home in search of unique attractions, unique events, unique downtowns, unique retail experiences and, in short, something unique. and out of the ordinary. Find your unique niche, grow it, and let the world know about it. You will be amazed!

These are certainly not the only things a community can do to combat the economic hardships that so many small and medium-sized communities face. These are simply basic ideas with which every community can begin to build its foundations. Communities that do all of the above and those local things unique to their area will find a way. They will find a way because by doing all of the above they will show that they are willing to do what it takes to win. Don’t get me wrong, this is a high stakes competition, there are winners and losers – which side will your community be on?

John Newby, Pineville, Missouri. is a nationally recognized publisher, community, business and media consultant and speaker. He is the author of “Building Main Street, not Wall Street”, a column appearing in over 50 communities. The founder of Truly-Local, dedicated to helping communities build excitement, energy and combine synergies with local media to become more vibrant and competitive. His email is:


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